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The Simple Life (standard:non fiction, 1306 words)
Author: dcastleAdded: Dec 28 2004Views/Reads: 2028/1097Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)
This story is about the summers I spent in the 50s with my grandparents and how simple life was back then in the country.

The Simple Life 

I grew up in the Sheffield area of Northeast Kansas city in the 1950s
but spent a good part of each summer vacation at my grandparents house 
just south of Amoret, Mo. They lived about three miles south of town. 
The Marais des Cygnes river was on the east side of their property and 
a stand of deep timber on the West side. Rich bottom land made up the 
other two sides of the property. A long winding road made from crushed 
river rock led to the house. The family dog, King, always met us 
halfway down the road. He had a huge tail that brought tears if it hit 
you in the leg, and one swipe could clean off an entire coffee table 
when he was excited. King was your typical big farm dog that could whip 
his weight in wildcats but was very protective and gentle with 

The house was surrounded by a great many shade trees-some oaks, a few
maples, but mostly walnuts. Grandma told me that she planted walnut 
trees because they were the last trees to grow their leaves in the 
spring, which would allow the sun to help warm the house, and they were 
the first to lose their leaves in the Fall, which would also help warm 
the house. A rain barrel sat at each corner of the house under the 
gutters to catch rain water that was used exclusively for washing hair. 
A vegetable garden ran from the house to the barn and behind the barn 
was the outhouse. Not to bad of a walk during the day, but a very long 
scary trek to a kid in the middle of the night. Seems like there was 
always a hoot owl close by that would scream out just as you got 
halfway down the path. 

My grandfather's hobby was tending to bees. There were probably ten
working hives in the far corner of their three acre yard. I was never 
allowed to get within a hundred yards of the hives, but it was close 
enough that I could watch my grandfather using a smoker to calm the 
bees so he could get to the honey. Even though he wore protective gear, 
I thought he had to be the bravest man in the world to walk around the 
hives with thousands of bees swarming around him. It was very 
impressive to an eight year old boy. 

Down each side of the house is where all the herbs were planted. My
grandmother knew a great deal about them and how to use them for just 
about anything that ails a person. She grew a lot of mint with the 
herbs for her tea which was the best I have ever had. 

A short walk through the pasture across the road from the house would
take me to an old apple orchard that no one cared for anymore. I could 
always find a few apples though and would take them about a block down 
the gravel road to another pasture that was the home to a couple of 
broken down old horses. They came to expect me every day and I rarely 
disappointed them. If I was lucky, I would find a box turtle on the way 
back that I would keep as a pet until my grandmother would find out and 
make me turn it lose. 

Some of my fondest memories as a child were helping my grandma in her
garden. That woman forgot more than I will ever know about raising a 
garden. My sisters and I would sit on the front porch and help her snap 
beans and shell peas for hours in the evenings. It was great listening 
to the cicadas and birds wrapping up the day with their songs as we 
worked. By fall, the root cellar was brimming with brightly colored 
jars of vegetables from her garden. 

Grandma had her garden, but Grandpa's passion was found in his workshop.
 It was a wonderful place to visit. Grandpa carved a lot of objects 
from wood but his forte was wooden duck decoys. Each one was placed 
high up on shelves when they were completed, safe from young hands. 
They were absolutely beautiful and very realistic, right down to the 
color of the paint. People came from as far away as Kansas City to 
admire and buy his decoys. 

In addition to the house not having indoor plumbing, there wasn't any
electricity or gas. Heat was provided by a huge pot-belly stove in the 
living room that had to be fed huge amounts of coal and wood. The 
wood-burning cook stove in the kitchen must have been very difficult to 
cook on but my grandmother never appeared to have a problem with it. 
Some of the best meals I've ever had in my life were cooked on that 
stove. Water for cooking, cleaning and bathing had to be brought in 
from a well in the backyard a bucket at a time and heated on the stove. 

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